WTVM Editorial 5/20/16: Is Bentley using double talk?

WTVM Editorial 5/20/16: Is Bentley using double talk?

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is trying to go about his regular routine while the scandal about his allegedly inappropriate behavior with a trusted advisor simmers in the background.

You might have missed two new developments that say a lot about how politicians in general and Bentley in particular parse the language to make something questionable sound perfectly all right.

The governor - who apparently sent emails about state business from a private email address - acknowledged that those emails are a public record, but said reporters couldn't have them because they didn't request them properly.

It sounds like someone inventing the rules as they go along.

Bentley says if the reporters ask the sender or recipient for the emails in question they could get them, but otherwise the emails are not subject to the open records law - except that Bentley agrees they are a public record.

And if that statement appears to make no sense, how about this: Bentley says he did not make his staff sign confidentiality agreements just as the scandal with his advisor Rebekah Mason was breaking; his chief of staff did.

Yet in virtually the same statement, Bentley conceded that when his chief of staff suggested the agreements he, Bentley, allowed him to do it.

So he didn't do it, but he did allow it.

Bentley believes he's being clear when he says these things, but the double talk shows why voters have trouble seeing transparency and credibility in government.  What voters see is the governor looks like he's trying to confuse the public or deflect blame for his decisions.

Alabama citizens deserve the truth and not some hard-to-follow circular logic. It's the job of a good governor to take responsibility for his actions and not hide behind semantics when it's convenient. Real leaders aren't afraid to tell the truth and stick to their story.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
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